Chronic Illness

Chronic diseases are diseases that last for a long time and affect different organs of the body. Such diseases become more common with age. Chronic diseases such as arthritis, epilepsy, oral health problems, liver cirrhosis and kidney disease are commonly found in older adults.

The CNA needs to provide special care for such patients as lack of activity and poor eating habits can further deteriorate the condition of the patients.

Arthritis: Arthritis is a musculoskeletal condition that affects the joints, tissue, ligaments, and tendons. This chronic condition impacts the daily life of the patients as they are unable to cope with the pain and stiffness of the joints. In addition to aging, obesity, joint injuries and heavy occupations such as farming, and heavy industry work are the risk factors for arthritis.

The patient is usually prescribed heat and cold applications for pain relief. The CNA should also encourage the patient to exercise regularly as prescribed by the doctor. The CNA should also ensure that the patient eats a proper diet and takes adequate rest.

Epilepsy and Seizures: Epilepsy is a brain disorder in which the patient experiences recurrent seizures. Seizures can be tremors and jerks, convulsions, loss of consciousness, sensory disturbances, or a blank stare. This can increase the risk of falls, accidents, and injuries in a patient. The CNA should ensure that the patient is safe during a seizure. Keep them from falling or gently guide the patient to the floor. The CNA should stay with the patient and call for medical help immediately. If the patient is already lying down, position the patient to one side so that fluids can leak out of the mouth. Stay calm and do not hold down or apply pressure to the patient, as it may cause injury. After the seizure, observe the patient for any injuries and place a patient in a safe area. Do not give the patient anything to eat or drink till he/she is fully alert.

Liver Cirrhosis: This is a chronic condition in which there is scarring of the liver. When the liver is not able to function efficiently, there is a buildup of toxic waste and it could further result in liver failure. The CNA should take the following actions when providing care for such a patient:

  • Monitor fluid intake and output to check for dehydration.
  • Encourage the patient to exercise and eat meals as prescribed.
  • Promote rest.
  • Report immediately if there is nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or constipation.
  • Reassure the patient and limit their activities, if there are signs of bleeding. Report to the nurse immediately.
  • Emphasize on giving up alcohol.

Kidney Disease: Kidney disease can cause a failure of kidneys, which may further result in heart congestion and generalized infection. The CNA should provide special care for such patients by observing and reporting any health changes, using safety measures and ensuring there is no damage to the patient’s IV fluid sites and feeding tubes. After surgery, such patients should be closely monitored for complaints of pain, change in color, vomiting, color and consistency of stool and urine, or other complications. The CNA should ensure that the patient takes the prescribed diet and medications.